This is another article from my time in the Houston sports media. It was meant to kick off a recurring feature with multiple authors, but it looks like it’s all on my shoulders now.
When you introduce a new feature called “The Dumbest Rules in Sports,” it makes sense to kick it off with a look at the NFL, whose rules committee comes from a magical realm of non-Euclidean maps. After only five decades of overtime games, the NFL noticed that it had a problem: an unbalanced overtime system that lets a coin toss directly influence the outcome of a game. Rejecting proven solutions, the rules committee thought and thought, until one of them shouted: “I’ve got it! Let’s replace it with an arbitrary, bureaucratic tangle that still lets a coin toss directly influence the outcome of a game!”
I spent a while as a writer and editor at a sports media company down in Houston. Their history is now so complicated that I can’t even say the name, but I still got to have some fun there. Here’s an article that I published in their humor section.
For the upcoming Texans at Redskins game on Nov. 18, our editors assigned us a challenge: use Madden NFL to simulate the game and attempt to correctly predict the outcome.
At a party on Saturday, I invented a game that I thought was just dreadfully clever. You know the auto-completion that Google gives you, to try to anticipate what you’re looking up? And you know how sometimes the suggestions can be notoriously insane, right?
It occurred to me that the autocompletions act a bit like a survey. A bit like the surveys they play with on Family Feud. So I thought, why not play Family Feud using autocomplete? And we did, and had a lot of fun.
Then I got home, excited to start developing the concept, and I found out that it’s been done (and quite well). I felt like I’d just gone to the patent office with blueprints for a phonograph record player, and there stood Thomas Edison’s great-grandson listening to an iPod, giving me the finger.
Still, all credit to these people who got there first. It’s a fun game, so go play it.
Being a lexicographer is fantastic, because it’s part of your job to play with wondrous resources like Urban Dictionary.
Once upon a time, the best thing about Urban Dictionary was looking up your own name; you could always find something hilarious, even if only barely literate. Here’s a curious definition for the name Matt. (I can’t tell if it’s an adjective, verb, or noun, and neither can the guy who wrote it, but if you have a friend named Matt, you probably should let him know about it.) But these days the fun definitions of names are typically buried beneath mountainous piles of adoring, worthless crap written by girlfriends or boyfriends.
You can still have fun with Urban Dictionary, though, through a game I invented called “Urban Dictionary Roulette.” The way it works is, you make up a word by combining sounds at random, and then you look it up in Urban Dictionary to see if it’s in there. If it is, you then use it in a sentence. You can only use a word if you aren’t aware of it being real.
Today I tried this with gunkle, lober, and twarm. All three were in there. The result: “When my gunkle revealed that my boss is a lober, I wanted to twarm.”